January 16, 2013
Washington, D.C. -- FAMM applauds the comments of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) at the Georgetown University Law Center this morning in Washington, DC. Sen. Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, strongly opposes mandatory minimum sentences and called today for their repeal and reform at the state and federal level. Chairman Leahy included mandatory minimum sentencing reform in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s priorities for the 113th Congress, and said:
"We also have to examine issues related to our high rate of imprisonment … and mandatory minimum sentences, to make sure that we have approaches that effectively reduce crime and target violent offenders. I say this as a former prosecutor and I say this as a chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I think our reliance on mandatory minimums at the state and federal level has been a great mistake. I’m not convinced it has lowered crime, but I [know] that we have imprisoned people who should not be there, and we have wasted money that is better spent on other things. I think at the federal level and at the state level, get rid of these mandatory minimum sentences. Let judges act as judges and make up their own mind [about] what should be done. The idea that we protect society by one-size-fits-all, or the idea that we can do this kind of symbolism to make us safer – it just does not work in the real world."
In response, FAMM President Julie Stewart said,
"Sen. Leahy knows what FAMM has been saying for 20 years: criminals deserve punishment, but the punishment should fit their crimes. Judges should be allowed to give enough punishment, but not more than is necessary or smart."
The entire speech is available on CSPAN. Sen. Leahy’s comments on mandatory sentences begin at 10:40.